What does "Serverless Computing" Mean?


In IoT conversations, we often hear about cloud computing and edge computing, even fog or mesh computing come up occasionally. Of course, we still talk about servers in terms of both storage and computing. A new idea, and term, has been gaining momentum and attention since it was coined and conceived in 2014:  Serverless Computing.

As it is usually defined, serverless computing is a way to buy and sell backend services “as-needed” rather than as a block of storage, compute and bandwidth. As a simplification, you could think of serverless computing as “computing-as-a-service,” under which servers are still used for storage and processing, but any given organization using backend services (from a platform vendor) is only making use of a portion of the capacity of those servers when needed, so the customer just pays based upon usage.

Obviously, pay-as-you-go access to computing seems cost effective for the users since this system avoids paying for unused capacity like idle containers or CPU time. It’s easy to see why customers would want to be able to access on-demand microservices like functions and key-value store. Yet, that’s not the only financial benefit for users because serverless also introduces DevOps efficiencies to allow products to release quickly, development teams to get feedback fast, and versions to be iterated smoothly to get to market faster.

The economics are important, of course, but what are the benefits for actual computing and product development?

The first big benefit to process is that of scale. Companies using serverless computing can let their developers work at scaling up code without having to worry about policies since the serverless platform vendor handles all of the scaling of infrastructure as needed and at will. In addition, the backend code can be greatly simplified, avoiding bugs and errors, allowing simple functions to perform their singular purpose independently. Serverless also cuts time to market by allowing developers to add to or modify code in sections, and doesn’t require a complex deployment process for every new bug fix or feature.

Organizations using serverless platforms just might also have happier customers. That automatic capacity to scale infrastructure on-demand also means the serverless platform vendor can rapidly adapt to customers’ needs faster than ever. Moreover, a good serverless platform offers application developers built-in service integrations, so app developers can focus on their core competencies rather than platform configuration.

Serverless computing simplifies operations by offloading the network, application overhead and compute management responsibilities in the backend to the platform vendor – which include provisioning, scheduling, scaling, and patching in most cases. This offloading returns more time to developers to build their actual application code and business logic.

So, Serverless Computing is pretty cool, but why is the IT industry starting to get excited about it? It’s because (despite being a bit of a misnomer since servers are of course still involved) the whole process is designed to make it easier for software developers to do what they love to do, which is write code and build products, instead of burning time and resources negotiating with servers for provisioning and bug fixes.

Serverless is a potentially powerful way to access the benefits of on-demand storage and computing, without the troublesome downsides. In short, Serverless Computing is a major change to the way the enterprise and IoT can design and implement storage, computing, and application development process, which is really a way to relieve developers of the increasing drag of managing legacy infrastructure.

Your business or organization will be more successful, and your customers and users will be happier, when your talented dev teams are freed up to do what they do best: building your products.

Click here to get onboard the EDJX Serverless platform and start building your apps on EDJX.

Rhett Gustafson, EVP Corporate and Business Development, EDJX

Rhett is a member of the strategic team at EDJX, leading corporate and business development. He has held senior positions in technology companies as well as in corporate finance and investment management, including Cowen & Company, Merrill Lynch, Strata Partners, and Octavius Capital Management. Most recently, Rhett was Executive Vice President,  Finance and Strategic Development at Telemedicine Solutions, LLC.

Rhett will be speaking on the panel, “Edge At Work” at  IoT Evolution Expo 2022 this week Thursday, June 23, 3pm-3:55pmET. Check out the panel happening at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The panel will occur in person at the Solutions Theater on the Expo floor.

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